Should You Hire a Lighting Designer?

Megan Porter
two people sitting and talking at a table

The short answer is yes. Lighting technology is advancing at an incredible speed, and every day we're learning more about the ways lighting impacts how products are viewed and received in retail environments. So before embarking on a light-emitting diode (LED) lighting project, it’s a smart idea to evaluate whether you need a lighting designer as part of your team to work in conjunction with your contractor. Here are a few benefits a lighting designer can bring to your project.

The Latest Lighting Trends
There is rapid growth in the field of LED lighting technology, and lighting designers make it their job to keep up-to-speed so you don’t have to. No need to waste time researching the latest or most cost-effective products when lighting control professionals attend national trade shows and keep their ear to the ground for you. In this way, designers are likely to not only understand what’s available, but can assess what your competitors may be doing design-wise that makes them successful. Side note: lighting designers may be more reliable as go-to providers than lighting specialists who work for manufacturers and may be offered to you as “free support personnel.” Beware of the “free lunch” that doesn’t exist when a vested interest is at stake. When you hire a lighting designer, he or she acts as an independent consultant who provides expertise on products free from conflicts of interest that skew advice.

Experienced Cost Control
Lighting designers maintain relationships with a variety of vendors (including energy-saving LED vendors) and can easily call on them for quick bids that keep your project on budget and reduce the cost of lighting installations. Furthermore, these vendors come pre-vetted as quality contractors who stick to a schedule, scope and budget (otherwise they wouldn’t be in rotation with a seasoned designer). Additionally, the ability to see multiple line-item bids puts you in a position to spot abnormalities in costs and keeps quotes honest. Your lighting designer can also act as a go-between, negotiating on your behalf and representing your project interests to vendors. What’s more, experienced lighting designers can generate vendor quotes and negotiate in a fraction of the time as an outsider, so they may be well worth the investment. In addition to having industry connections, a lighting designer will help with the process of vetting lighting solutions to maximize the technology and available rebates offered through Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

Avoid Over-Lighting and Wasted Energy
Excessive lighting is a common occurrence and an easy give-away for spotting spaces where lighting was implemented without the help of a lighting designer. It’s especially important because not only does over-lighting an area make it less appealing, it directly increases energy use and increases costs. Furthermore, lighting controls can have real health effects, and over-lighting may specifically influence circadian rhythms.1 Not all spaces are created equal, and lighting designers understand how to light a room for its intended purpose so you avoid high bills that cut into your profits and prevent desired effects.

Intelligent Technique
True lighting designers consider more than just the light fixtures themselves; they also understand how it all comes together to create a retail experience. Everything is considered, from color choice of the walls and carpets to natural daylight and directing customers through a space. Plus, because they’re familiar with the psychology behind lighting controls, they can help you meet your end goal – increased sales. All this, while considering beauty and aesthetics, is what makes lighting designers an invaluable addition to your team.

Now that you’ve seen some of the benefits a lighting designer can bring to your LED project, it’s important to bring them in early. Designers can help you set your budget realistically and plan accordingly, so the more involved they are the better the final product. You can learn more about working with lighting contractors in PGE’s eBook, "The Complete Guide to Working with a Lighting or HVAC Contractor". The eBook provides business owners and managers with necessary guidance when working with third-party lighting or HVAC contractors.

Referenced in article:

  1. LEDs Magazine. Opens in new Window.
  2. International Association of Lighting Designers. Opens in new Window.